Monday, March 29, 2021

"The cause of justice demands proprietariness about the meaning of 'reparations,' and we object to these kinds of piecemeal and misleading labels."

"True reparations only can come from a full-scale program of acknowledgment, redress and closure for a grievous injustice."

Write A. Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity Jr. in "Evanston, Ill., approved ‘reparations.’ Except it isn’t reparations" (WaPo). The Evanston program only offers $25,000 grants for repairs or down payments on real estate.

The authors demonstrate their "proprietariness about the meaning of 'reparations'" by spelling out 4 necessary elements: 

1. Careful delineation of eligibility — including, necessarily, a requirement of an ancestor who was enslaved in the U.S., and self-identification as black on an official document for at least 12 years before the program starts.

2. Erasure of the black/white wealth gap. The authors think $14 trillion is needed.

3. Direct payments to individuals. Not programs like Evanston's, which centers on home ownership.

4. Paid by the federal government. Only the federal government has the kind of money that is demanded, so state and local government should be excluded from using the word "reparations."

Here's a good comment over there: "By describing 'true' reparations as only something that is both politically and practically unachievable, the authors reveal that they are more interested in maintaining the 'systemic racism' grievance industry then helping the country move past its issues with race."

By the way, I don't think I'd ever seen the word "proprietariness" before. It doesn't mean "propriety." The word is not in the OED, but I can see that the "-ness" ending is making a noun out of the adjective "proprietary," which means property-owning or relating to property. It's an unusual word. A google search on it is dominated by references to "male sexual proprietariness" (a man's sense of owning his wife's sexual and reproductive functions). I couldn't find 1 use of the word in the NYT archive, but I did find 6 uses in The Washington Post archive, including a piece from last October about reparations in California:

William Darity Jr., a Duke University economics professor and reparations expert, told the website Cal Matters that no single state could launch an action large enough to be called “reparations.” 

 “I have a sense of proprietariness about the use of the term reparations, because I think people should not be given the impression that the kinds of steps that are taken at the state or local level actually constitute a comprehensive or true reparations plan,” Darity said in Cal Matters. “Whatever California does perhaps could be called atonement, or it could be called a correction for past actions.”

"Reparations" is a brand. There is a claim of ownership over the word itself, and politicians attempting to use the brand for their programs will be pushed back by those who have this sense of proprietariness

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